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This child is not mine as the first was,

I cannot sing it to rest,
I cannot lift it up fatherly

And bliss it upon my breast;
Yet it lies in my little one's cradle,

And it sits in my little one's chair,
And the light of the heaven she's gone to

Transfigures its golden hair.

The Courtin'.*

God makes sech nights, all white an' still

Fur'z you can look or listen,
Moonshine an' snow on field an' hill,

All silence an' all glisten.

Zekle crep' up quite unbeknown

An' peeked in thru' the winder,
An' there sot Huldy all alone,

’Ith no one nigh to hender.

A fireplace filled the room's one side

With half a cord o' wood in-
There warn't no stoves (tell comfort died)

To bake ye to a puddin'.

The wa’nut logs shot sparkles out

Towards the pootiest, bless her,
An' leetle flames danced all about

The chiny on the dresser.

Agin the chimbley crook-necks hung,

An' in amongst 'em rusted
The ole queen’s-arm thet gran’ther Young

Fetched back from Concord, busted.

The very room, coz she was in,

Seemed warm from floor to ceilin',
An' she looked full ez rosy agin

Ez the apples she was peelin'.

* This poem and the two series of The Biglow Papers are written in the Yankee


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Vision of Sir Launfal.*

Prelude to Part Second. Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak,

From the snow five thousand summers old; On open wold and hill-top bleak

It had gathered all the cold, And whirled it like sleet on the wanderer's cheek; It carried a shiver everywhere From the unleafed boughs and pastures bare. The little brook heard it and built a roof ’Neath which he could house him, winter-proof; All night by the white stars' frosty gleams He groined his arches and matched his beams; Slender and clear were his crystal spars As the lashes of light that trim the stars; He sculptured every summer delight In his halls and chambers out of sight. Sometimes his tinkling waters slipt Down through a frost-leaved forest-crypt, Long, sparkling aisles of steel-stemmed trees Bending to counterfeit a breeze; Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew But silvery mosses that downward grew; Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief With quaint arabesques of ice-fern leaf;

* The story ran that the Holy Grail, the Cup out of which Jesus partook of the last supper with his disciples, was brought into England by Joseph of Arimathea, and remained many years in the keeping of his descendants. It was incumbent on those having charge of it to be chaste in thought, word, and deed. One of these violating this condition, the Holy Grail disappeared. To go in search of it was said to have been a favorite enterprise with the knights of the mythic Arthur's Court.

In this poem of Lowell's, Sir Launfal is represented as having a vision as he lay asleep on the rushes through the night before he is to start out in search of the Holy Cup. The first of the vision, in which the knight sees himself, young, strong, haughty, and splendidly arrayed, set forth in the spring-time is described in Part First of the poem.

The last of the vision in which the knight sees himself, old, bent, in rags, and humbled in spirit, return in the winter-time, unsuccessful in his search, is described in Part Second, which we quote. This Part is preceded by a Prelude descriptive of winter, as Part First is by a Prelude descriptive of spring.

Sometimes it was simply smooth and clear
For the gladness of heaven to shine through, and here
He had caught the nodding bulrush-tops
And hung them thickly with diamond drops,
That crystalled the beams of moon and sun,
And made a star of every one.
No mortal builder's most rare device
Could match this winter-palace of ice;
'Twas as if every image that mirrored lay
In his depths serene through the summer day,
Each fleeting shadow of earth and sky,

Lest the happy model should be lost,
Had been mimicked in fairy masonry

By the elfin builders of the frost.

Within the hall are song and laughter,

The cheeks of Christmas glow red and jolly,
And sprouting is every corbel and rafter

With the lightsome green of ivy and holly;
Through the deep gulf of the chimney wide
Wallows the Yule-log's roaring tide;
The broad flame-pennons droop and flap

And belly and tug as a flag in the wind;
Like a locust shrills the imprisoned sap,

Hunted to death in its galleries blind; And swift little troops of silent sparks,

Now pausing, now scattering away as in fear, Go threading the soot-forest's tangled darks

Like herds of startled deer.

But the wind without was eager and sharp,
Of Sir Launfal’s gray hair it makes a harp,

And rattles and wrings

The icy strings,
Singing, in dreary monotone,
A Christmas carol of its own,
Whose burden still, as he might guess,
Was—“Shelterless, shelterless, shelterless!"

The voice of the seneschal flared like a torch
As he shouted the wanderer away from the porch,

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